Wright County Board Minutes

DECEMBER 15, 2009
The Wright County Board met in regular session at 9:00 A.M. with Sawatzke, Mattson, Russek, Eichelberg, and Thelen present.
The Board reviewed two sets of County Board minutes from 12-01-09. The first set of minutes is from their regular session held at 9:00 A.M. On a motion by Thelen, second by Eichelberg, all voted to approve those minutes as presented. The second set of minutes is from their special session held at 6:00 P.M. to discuss the draft budget and certified levy. The following corrections were made to Page 1 of the minutes: Change date of meeting from “December 2” to “December 1” (Norman); Paragraph 3, Item 4, change 2nd sentence to read, “2010 is an election year so a spike is seen” (Norman) Paragraph 4, Item 5, change 1st sentence to read, “Major impacts in the budget for 2010 total $807,800, with a local levy increase of $400,000” (Norman); Paragraph 4, Item #6, 1st sentence, “This is budgeted at a $50,000 increase for 2010” (Norman). Russek moved to approve the minutes from the evening meeting as corrected, seconded by Thelen, carried 5-0.
Petitions were accepted to the Agenda as follows: Aud./Treas. Item #6, “Set Cut-Off For Claims, 12-23-09” (Hiivala); Aud./Treas. Item #7, “Ditch 34 Update” (Hiivala). Eichelberg moved to approve the Agenda, seconded by Russek, carried 5-0.
The Consent Agenda was discussed. Mattson referenced Item H1, “SWCD, Authorize Signatures On FY 2010 Natural Resources Block Grant Agreement.” Joe Jacobs, SWCD, explained that this is the same grant as last year with some slight modifications. The septic component has been left off and will be handled through a separate grant expected early next year in the amount of $10,000 (handled through BWSR but the funding is through MPCA). The grant will be directed to Planning & Zoning for septic issues. Jacobs said the figures in the Natural Resources Block Grant Agreement are similar to those in last year’s Agreement. On a motion by Eichelberg, second by Thelen, all voted to approve the Consent Agenda:
1. Performance Appraisals: K. Horsch, M. Ruzicka, Aud./Treas.; J. Wolff, Hwy.; D. Martin, IT; J. Ahlm, R. Bastien, M. Erickson, A. Habisch, A. Lund, K. Maas, D. Miller, K. Perkins, G. Torfin, Sher./Corr.
2. O/T Report, Period Ending 11-27-09.
3. Authorize Signatures On Minnesota Cities Participation Program (First Time Homebuyer) Application.
4. Approve/Authorize Signatures On Two Memorandums Of Agreement With Teamsters Local 320-Courthouse Unit To Allow Donation Of Vacation Time To Two Employees.
5. Acknowledge Health Insurance Renewal Rates Effective 3-01-10.
1. Approve Abatement, PID #108-036-001060, Constance J. Norman-Rognlie (City of Hanover).
2. Approve Abatement, PID #118-199-0009030, Luvern & Linda Hendrickson (City of Otsego).
3. Approve Abatement, PID #107-086-003020, Rollingbrock Homes (City of Delano).
4. Approve Abatement, PID #215-059-002080, Shawn & Lisa Oberg (Rockford Twp.).
5. Approve Abatement, PID #219-000-233403, 219-000-261200, 219-000-262100, 219-000-233308, 219-000-262200, Gary and Carol Johnson (Victor Twp.).
6. Approve Abatement, PID #116-028-000030, City of Waverly (City of Waverly).
7. Approve Abatement, PID #220-000-022109, Russell & Pamela Johnson (Woodland Twp.).
1. 2010 Tobacco License Renewals: Don’s Auto Service, Croix Convenience (Albertville City); Clearwater Travel Plaza – General Store, Clearwater Travel Plaza – Fuel Center (Clearwater City); Kirk’s Travel Plaza, Iron Horse Grill & Saloon (Cokato City); Flippin’ Bill’s, Dave’s Town Club, Doc Holiday’s (Delano City); Lantto’s Store (French Lake Twp.); The Original Tom Thumb, River Inn (Hanover City); Madigan’s Pub & Grill, H&H Sport Shop (Maple Lake City); Monticello Liquor, Speedway SuperAmerica #4479, O’Ryan’s Marathon, WalMart Supercenter (Monticello City); The Ugly Bar (Montrose City); Speedway SuperAmerica #4554, Speedway SuperAmerica #4267, Hi 101 Liquor, Thrifty White Drug #743 (St. Michael City); Mark’s Service (Waverly City).
2. Approval of Temporary 3.2 Malt Liquor License for Annual Fishing Contest on Maple Lake, sponsored by Maple Lake – Lake Property Owners’ Association – January 30, 2010.
1. Appointment Of Keri Schneider & Laura Holberg To 1 & 2 Year Appointments, Respectively, As Youth Members On The Wright County Extension Committee.
1. Approve Renewal Of Agreement With Functional Industries To Use Vehicle Wash Bay At Public Works Building For Their Buses.
1. Appoint Jerry Durst To A 3-Year Term On The Parks Commission (1-01-10 Through 12-31-12), Representing Commissioner District #3.
1. Accept The Findings & Recommendations Of The Planning Commission For The Following Rezoning:
A. Christian Van Lith (Clearwater Twp.). Planning Commission unanimously recommend approval of rezoning the east 40 acres of the farm from AG to A/R.
1. Authorize Signatures On FY 2010 Natural Resources Block Grant Agreement.
1. Approve & Authorize Signatures On The Yearly Updates To The Nuclear Plan. Bob Hiivala, Auditor/Treasurer, opened bids for the Official County Newspaper for 2010. He requested that the bids be laid over for recommendation at the next County Board Meeting. Mattson moved to approve the recommendation, seconded by Russek, carried 5-0:
Herald Journal
Line length in picas 10.5
Lines per inch in legals 10
Length in lower case alphabet 84
Cost per column inch for legals 0.01
Dassel-Cokato Enterprise Dispatch
Line length in picas 10.5
Lines per inch in legals 10
Length in lower case alphabet 84
Cost per column inch for legals 2.99
Hiivala presented the November Revenue/Expenditure Guidelines. Hiivala said the State has indicated there will be no further unallotments in December. Russek felt that this might adversely impact the payments from the State in July, 2010. Eichelberg moved to approve the November Revenue/Expenditure Guidelines, seconded by Thelen, carried 5-0.
Correspondence was received from Northwest Associated Consultants, Inc., planners for the City of Otsego, regarding a tax forfeit property at 8833 Needham Ave. NE, Otsego. Brian Asleson, Chief Deputy Attorney, stated this is a one-acre parcel of land that includes a mobile home and garage. The structure is 40 years old and has an assessed value of $60,000. The City of Otsego took action to adopt a resolution, by Statute, that gives the County 14 days to secure the property. Otherwise, the City will take this action and the costs will be assessed to the property. The County is caretaker of the property on behalf of the State. Asleson said one option would be to clear the lot (remove the buildings). Mattson questioned whether the parcel could be offered to the adjoining landowners. Asleson said this would depend on whether the lot is buildable. If the lot is undersized, it can be offered for sale to adjoining property owners. Mattson moved to authorize Asleson to obtain quotes on clearing the property. These quotes will be brought before the Board at the next meeting. The motion was seconded by Russek and carried unanimously.
Hiivala said Meeker County would like to hold a meeting to discuss billing procedures on Joint Ditch 14. Eichelberg moved to authorize Russek, Mattson, and Hiivala to meet with Meeker County. The motion was seconded by Thelen and carried 5-0. The meeting will be held prior to 2010 but has not been set at this time.
At the recommendation of Hiivala, Thelen moved to set the cutoff for any claims to be paid in 2009 for 12-23-09 at 12:00 P.M. The motion was seconded by Russek and carried unanimously.
Asleson provided an update on Ditch 34. Previously, the County Board established a Public Hearing for 1-12-09. There is also an Informational Meeting scheduled at the City of Delano on 12-16-09 at 6:30 P.M. The meetings will address the two actions requested by the City of Delano: 1) To outlet storm water from the Industrial Park into Ditch 34; and 2) To replace a broken section with an open ditch. This is considered an improvement per Statute. Asleson requested that the 1-12-10 Public Hearing be postponed to ensure that the proper number of signatures has been obtained from landowners petitioning the improvement. Russek moved to cancel the Ditch 34 Public Hearing scheduled for 1-12-09 at 10:00 A.M., seconded by Thelen. Russek said the Informational Meeting is not a public hearing but rather will provide information on the City’s plans. The Industrial Park has proposed that all the improvements have been engineered to the pre-development run-off rate. The motion carried 5-0.
The claims listing was discussed. Russek referenced claims listed on Page 33 relating to the 800 MHz Radio System. Hiivala said the claim reflects a cost of $1,740 for each of the two towers located in Annandale and Howard Lake for December, 2009. This cost will be realized monthly. Sawatzke said the claim for diesel fuel should not occur very often. Richard Norman, County Coordinator, said the back up generator must be tested monthly. Sawatzke questioned who tests the generator but it was unclear who has this responsibility. Mattson questioned whether the Furniture & Equipment line item is the appropriate funding source. Hiivala said that the expenditures are currently from the bonds. Ongoing, the expense will not be funded from the Furniture & Equipment line item. Thelen moved to approve the claims as listed in the abstract, subject to audit. The motion was seconded by Eichelberg and carried 5-0.
Wayne Fingalson, Highway Engineer, said a Construction Excellence Merit Award was received jointly by Wright County and Knife River Corporation for the CSAH 8 Overlay Project (from South County Line to TH 12). The representatives present at the meeting from Knife River included Harry Klatt (Project Manager), Scott Hinebrink (Paving Manager), and Andy Hicks (Estimator). Those present from Wright County included Virgil Hawkins (Asst. Highway Engineer), Bryan Hendricks (Street Inspector), and Wes Workman (Plant Inspector). Fingalson said Kevin Johnson (Senior Engineering Inspector) was also involved with the project but was not present. Richard Walters, Executive Director for MN Asphalt Paving Association, said he represented both agency and industry, as this award is a joint competition award program. He clarified that agency includes Mn/DOT, city, county, State-Aid, municipal, and the consultant sector. The Awards Program is in its 50th year. The overall objective is that the work is a result of excellent teamwork and dedication to improving Minnesota’s infrastructure program for a safe, efficient, and economical system. Walters said this is a very prestigious award and emphasizes quality. There are various categories of awards, but this award is the only one given in the State.
Fingalson requested the Board adopt a resolution identifying projects where funds need to be advanced from the 2010 allotment to pay for the projects in 2009. The draft resolution identifies a total of $1.94 million in advanced funding. Russek moved to adopt Resolution #09-51, seconded by Eichelberg. Mattson questioned whether advancing the funds will affect future projects. Fingalson explained that the advancement is part of the 5-Year Plan and this is built into the system. Many counties have been forced to stretch dollars due to the economy. Advance encumbering allows them to proceed with the projects identified in the 5-Year Plan. This will be discussed at the Transportation Committee Of The Whole Meeting. The motion carried 5-0 on a roll call vote.
Fingalson requested that the Board set a Transportation Committee Of The Whole (TCOTW) Meeting. Every year, Wright County must establish a list of projects that will be submitted for Federal funding. The application will be made for 2014. This process provides an opportunity to receive input from other communities, particularly cities, for enhancement projects. The County then prioritizes those projects. Fingalson said he would also like to provide an update on the McNamara and Chouinard properties at the TCOTW Meeting. There is a potential buyer for the McNamara property in St. Michael. An offer of $22,500 was received. The County Board previously set a $20,000 minimum for the sale of the property. Sawatzke requested that the Committee also discuss the Adopt-A-Highway Program. Prior to the TCOTW Meeting, Sawatzke requested that Fingalson contact other counties on their Adopt-A-Highway programs and participation levels. Thelen moved to set a TCOTW Meeting for 1-06-10 at 1:30 P.M., seconded by Russek, carried 5-0.
Greg Kramber, Assessor, acknowledged Conrad Anderson for achieving the Accredited Minnesota Assessor Designation from the Minnesota State Board of Assessors. Anderson is an Appraiser for Wright County. Kramber said there are four levels of assessing licenses in Minnesota (CMA, Specialist, AMA, and Senior Accredited). Anderson is working to attain the Senior Accredited designation. This involves a 5-year commitment through education requirements. The Board extended congratulations to Anderson.
Kramber requested that the Board approve contracting with Jane Grossinger for computer consulting in the Assessor’s Office at a rate of $30/hour, not to exceed $6,000. Grossinger is currently an Assessor with the City of St. Michael. She previously was a Programmer with both the ACS System (former vendor for the property tax program) and the CAMA System (current system). Kramber said her experience would assist their office greatly. Grossinger’s time can either be funded through the Recorder’s Compliance Fund or from the Assessor’s Professional Services line item. Eichelberg moved to approve the request, seconded by Thelen. Sawatzke asked whether this request differs from a recent request Kramber presented for clerical assistance in the Assessor’s Office. Kramber said they still plan to follow through with the clerical request and the office configuration will be completed later this month. Kramber said Grossinger would be able to provide the support required assuring the Manatron and CAMA Systems are working together properly. It was the consensus that the expense will be funded from the Recorder’s Compliance Fund. The motion carried 5-0.
Joe Hagerty, Chief Deputy Sheriff, introduced Sgt. Brian Johnson and Lt. Greg Findley who were present to discuss the request by the Sheriff Department to use the Compost Facility for emergency driving training. Hagerty said that since 1989, the Minnesota Post Board requires licensed law enforcement personnel to complete continued education with emergency pursuit driving every three years. Each year, 1/3 of the 144 deputies are sent to St. Cloud for this training at a cost of $400 each. Sgt. Johnson completed a one-week school that allows him to be the facilitator for the driving school. The request is to utilize the Compost Facility for the driving school 3-4 times per year. The Sheriff’s Department currently uses the Compost Facility as a canine training facility. Sgt. Johnson feels the training will be equal to or above what they are receiving from an outside agency. The training will be more specific to Wright County and the needs of the Department. The eight-hour training will include three hours of classroom training and five hours of practical training. The officers must demonstrate they are capable of operating vehicles in various categories (i.e., basic driving, skid control, braking, effective use of emergency equipment). Sgt. Johnson said they have researched liability insurance. The Compost Facility is completely fenced in and secure. They will use the main concrete lot and the near 1/4 mile track system. They anticipate holding four classes in the fall and four classes in the Spring with six deputies per class. That equates to about 48 deputies per year and about 140 deputies every three years. They will work with the Compost Facility hours of operation so as not to inhibit public hours. As far as equipment needs, Sgt. Johnson feels there will be a one-time cost of just over $2,000 for traffic cones. With regard to savings, he said that in 2009 the St. Cloud rates included a $246 course fee plus $120 for vehicle rental. Wright County has rented vehicles in the past to save wear on County vehicles. The St. Cloud course is a two-mile course and so the training involves higher speeds than what would occur at the Compost Facility. If the training is offered at the Compost Facility, it will allow deputies to utilize their own vehicles and equipment. The cost over a three-year period for 144 deputies (not including wages) is $52,704. This does not include cost of travel and meal allowances. Sawatzke asked about the potential of utilizing cones from the Highway Department. Sgt. Johnson said they have asked in the past but generally the cones are in use or they do not have an adequate supply. Sawatzke asked about the likelihood of a vehicle crashing into a building during the practical training. Sgt. Johnson said this is unlikely. They will set up the course so that any turns or curves are away from the structures and they will reduce speeds in that area. It is a very controlled training and involves constant supervision. Only six deputies are trained at one time with 1-2 cars on the track at a time. Sgt. Johnson said he will be the lead Instructor and will have assistance from 1-2 officers. Sawatzke asked whether there would be concern when there are large piles of product at the site (compost, brush). Sgt. Johnson responded they would work with staff to determine the appropriate timing for the training. Bill Stephens, Environmental Health Officer, said he does not foresee a problem with facilitating this training. The non-public days at the Compost Facility are Monday, Wednesday, and Friday. They will try to use the tarmac for product so the track will be available. Fire hydrants on the property will need to be identified to avoid hitting them. With regard to insurance, Sgt. Johnson stated that there is coverage. The deputies are not operating the vehicles in much different of a situation than in the normal day-to-day operations. Thelen moved to authorize use of the Compost Facility for the Sheriff’s Office Emergency Driving Training. The motion was seconded by Mattson. Sawatzke cited the budgetary implications and said it appears there will be a $14,000 annual savings in staff training, recognizing there will be some initial costs. He asked whether the Sheriff’s budget could be reduced. Chief Deputy Hagerty said they will still send staff members to Pursuit Intervention Training in St. Cloud at a cost of about $500/person. This training is for slower speed pursuits where the person will not stop the vehicle. They do want some staff trained in this type of pursuit, particularly Sergeants and Use of Force Instructors. Chief Deputy Hagerty assumed this training would be funded from the Sheriff Training budget but it could possibly be funded from Professional Services. Sawatzke asked how much the Sheriff Training line item could be reduced, as the Board will set the Budget and Levy today. Hagerty stated he will consult with staff and bring back a response by the end of today’s meeting. The motion carried 5-0.
Marc Mattice, Parks Administrator, said correspondence was received from the Clearwater River Watershed District (CRWD) relating to a $1,004.20 maintenance assessment. In 2006, a project was completed at Schroeder Park for water quality. The County paid almost $14,000 in the project implementation stage. The CRWD is now doing a maintenance assessment for the properties on Cedar, Albion, Swartout, and Henshaw Lakes. Mattice said this was not budgeted but could be funded from the Parks Repairs & Maintenance line item (6301) which currently has about a $4,600 balance. Sawatzke asked whether the County is legally required to pay this assessment. Mattice stated that if it is not paid, it would be placed on the tax statement. Asleson said it is similar to a special assessment. Mattice asked the CRWD to inform the County of this type of assessment prior to budget time (for any future requests). Eichelberg moved to pay the $1,004.20 maintenance assessment to the CRWD, with funding from line item 6301, Repairs & Maintenance. The motion was seconded by Thelen and carried 5-0.
Mattice said a letter was received from the Pleasant Lake Improvement Association requesting a monetary donation to assist with the Curly Leaf Pondweed treatment. Clearwater Pleasant Regional Park is located on Pleasant Lake. In 2006 and 2008, the Lake Improvement Association also requested donations from both the County and the City of Annandale for Curly Leaf Pondweed treatments. They hope to bring their coverage back to 25 acres in 2010 and have requested a $1,000 donation for this treatment. The City contributed $1,000 in the past but reduced their contribution to $700 this year due to budget constraints. Mattice calculated the cost for the 275 acres at $6,875 ($25 cost/acre). This would equate to $930.19 for the County’s portion (based on per foot of shoreline). Mattson asked whether donations have been given to all lakes where the County owns properties. Mattice said the County contributed to Beebe Lake a few years ago for milfoil treatment. The County donated $500 in 2008 to the Lake Mary Association. The County has also contributed to the Pleasant Lake Association. Requests are handled on a case-by-case basis. The County owns park land on many lakes and they look at how the lake frontage is utilized. Sawatzke said that if the cost were divided per property owner, the County’s portion would be less than $700. Eichelberg asked whether the treatment has been completed. Joe Jacobs, SWCD, said it is a 5-year project but was unsure as to what point in that process they are at. Mattice said the funding formula in the past has been 1/6 each by the County and City and 2/3 by the Lake Association. Russek moved to donate $700 to the Pleasant Lake Improvement Association, seconded by Mattson. Funding will be from the Parks Maintenance line item. The motion carried unanimously.
Mattice asked the Board to authorize signatures on a Farm Lease Agreement at the Bertram Chain of Lakes Regional Park. The Bertram Chain of Lakes Advisory Committee recommends this action. The Agreement was presented to the City of Monticello for approval but Mattice was unsure of the outcome. The ten acres is located in the southeast corner of the Park and adjoins the YMCA property. It is recommended that the land be leased to Mark Holker of Monticello at a cost of $500. Holker is farming the YMCA property. The $500 rental would be placed in a fund that would be retained for maintenance, repairs, and small promotional items at the Bertram Chain of Lakes property. Sawatzke said the City would take control of the funds. Mattson asked whether the Agreement is similar to farm lease agreements held with other land owners for County properties (land near Rasset Store, Fairgrounds, Jail/LEC). Sawatzke said normally, the Agreements are drawn up by Asleson. This Agreement was drafted by the City and reviewed by Asleson. Sawatzke said Holker currently rents the YMCA property located next to this property and it would not make sense for another person to farm it due to its location. Mattson said land near the Fairgrounds is rented for $90/acre. Sawatzke responded that this land has sandy soil. Mattson said the properties near Rasset Store and the Jail/LEC are gravel. He had concern that all properties were being treated the same. Eichelberg moved to authorize signatures on the Farm Lease Agreement, seconded by Thelen, carried 5-0. Sawatzke asked whether the Board supported placing the $500 in a Bertram fund with expenditures to be overseen by the Bertram Chain of Lakes Task Force. Eichelberg suggested use of the funds be reviewed by the County Auditor/Treasurer. A report should be provided to the County reflecting the expenditures. Sawatzke directed Mattice to contact the Auditor/Treasurer. If the Auditor/Treasurer has any concerns, they can be brought forth to the Board, or the appropriate person, so they can be addressed. It was the consensus that the County Board supported the formation of the fund as outlined.
Mattice asked that the Board authorize signatures on the 2010 Green View Contract for caretakers at Beebe Lake, Otsego, Clearwater/Pleasant, Fairhaven, and Ney Parks. The annual contract runs from 1-01-10 through 12-31-10 at a cost of $89,205 (6,606 hours). Mattice said the expenditure is cited in the 2010 Budget under line item 6117. The hours in the contract and administrative fees remain the same as in 2009. The salaries are proposed to increase. Eichelberg moved to authorize signatures on the Contract, seconded by Thelen. Sawatzke asked whether Green View is increasing their pay rates to others with whom they contract. Mattice said their Administrative Expenses at $1.45 did not increase nor did their Other Labor Expenses at $1.55. What did increase were the hourly salaries for Lead Workers, from $10.35 to $10.50, and for the hourly salaries for Regular Workers from $10.00 to $10.15. It is the County’s option as to whether the hourly rates are increased. Mattson asked how work is separated between Green View and STS. Mattice said STS works directly with Parks staff on such things as construction projects, tree trimming/removal, etc.. Green View workers work independently on appearance of the parks (mowing, beaches, facility cleaning). Sawatzke inquired whether the $.15 increase in wages was requested by Green View. Mattice responded that he asked for the increase at budget time. Eichelberg said this was discussed during budget sessions and he would support the request. Mattson said if the increase was not requested by Green View, then the wages should remain the same as 2009. Sawatzke supported leaving the wages as well. Mattson moved to amend the motion modifying the Green View Contract to reflect hourly wages for the Lead Workers at $10.35 and Regular Workers at $10.00. The amended motion was seconded by Russek and carried 4-1 with Eichelberg casting the nay vote. The vote on the Green View Contract with the amended wages carried 5-0. Mattice was instructed to have the document revised and provided to the Administration Office.
Brian Asleson, Chief Deputy Attorney, stated that in 2004, Wright County entered into a Joint Powers Agreement to form the Justice Initiative Group with Sherburne County. The primary benefit to Wright County was the ability to board prisoners at the Sherburne County Jail for $55/day. With the completion of the Wright County Jail/LEC, there is no longer a need to board prisoners elsewhere. Sheriff Miller has indicated that the Agreement is not necessary to facilitate cooperation between the two Sheriff’s Departments regarding the investigation and solution of major crimes. Asleson said Sherburne County has taken action to terminate the Agreement and has requested that Wright County do the same. Russek moved to terminate the Joint Powers Agreement, seconded by Thelen. Norman said the Agreement reflects it may be terminated by either party with a 60-day written notice and asked for the effective date. Asleson will provide written notice to Sherburne County and copy both the Sheriff and Administration Offices. Russek felt the effective day would be 60 days from the action taken by the Sherburne County Board to terminate the Agreement. The motion carried 5-0.
Laid over from earlier in the meeting, the Board discussed the Sheriff Budget with Chief Deputy Joe Hagerty. Hagerty was in contact with Captain Dave Miller of the Sheriff’s Office who is comfortable with reducing the Sheriff Training line item by $8,000. Hagerty stated as discussed, there will be some start up costs with the Emergency Driving Training for deputies. There will also be Office 2007 training and possibly some unanticipated training costs. The Sheriff Department has shown a history of turning back funds at the end of the year and anticipates dong the same this year.
The meeting recessed at 10:21 A.M. and reconvened at 10:33 A.M.
A Personnel Committee Of The Whole Meeting was held on 12-01-09. At today’s County Board Meeting, Eichelberg moved to approve the minutes and recommendations, seconded by Thelen. Mattson asked whether the motion is for approval of the minutes only or includes the recommendations. Sawatzke said the motion includes both. The motion carried 3-2 with Mattson and Sawatzke casting the nay votes:
DISCUSS 2010 SALARIES OF ELECTED DEPARTMENT HEADS. Norman stated that the purpose of today’s meetings is to establish the 2010 salaries for Sheriff Gary Miller, County Attorney Tom Kelly, and Auditor/Treasurer Bob Hiivala. These meetings meet the statutory requirements. Norman reminded the Committee of the State Statute that states, “County Board sets the salary after considering the extent of the responsibilities and duties of the office, and the elected official’s experience, qualifications, and performance.”
A. 10:30 A.M. Gary Miller, Sheriff.
Miller stated that he has been Sheriff for ten years and has worked in the Sheriffs Department since 1975. He is approaching his final year and will not be running for re-election. He stated that his performance is ultimately judged by the election process. He stated that his responsibilities have not changed much over the year, although his Department has been faced with challenges. Miller commented that the new Jail/LEC now allows his Department to be even more efficient. He stated that the public has been well served and he has yet to hear any negative comments about the new building. Sawatzke stated that he doubted that Miller would ever hear any negative comments about the Jail/LEC, however, County citizens may be upset about the levy or their farm taxes going up as a result of wage increases to County employees. Mattson stated that his District is experiencing the highest number of layoffs. He stated that he feels uncomfortable supporting pay increases this year. Sawatzke commented that other counties have either elected a zero percent increase or a decrease in wages. Thelen asked what was budgeted for employee salaries in 2010. Sawatzke stated that a 2.5% increase for all employees was budgeted but that is a separate issue from today’s discussion. An elected official’s performance is the standard used in determining whether a wage increase is relevant. Sawatzke commented that he did not think that any of the elected Department Heads would sue the County regarding their wages. He stated that he did not think that the public would support wage increases. Miller stated that he is aware of the current economic situation. He stated that the County has always been consistent in its compensation increases. He stated that the County is increasing city contracts by 2.5% to cover employee wage increases. The cities are willing to purchase these services because they know it is more efficient for them to utilize County services. Miller stated that last year his Department turned back approximately $250,000. This year, they project $400,000-800,000. He stated that his Department is 30% more efficient than other counties with the same size of staff. He stated that even in these difficult economic times, his Department has been able to become even more efficient. He stated that he started his 36th year in law enforcement in October, 2009. He stated that he does not mind last year’s salary amount, but feels it would unfair to work for a lesser amount as it would affect his high five. He stated that he does not approve of the County Board asking taxpayers for more money. He read Ivan Raconteur’s article in the 11-30-09 Enterprise Dispatch and it is not easy for him to ask for a wage increase. Russek stated that he is in favor of a 2.5% increase. Russek commented that Miller’s workload did not decrease over the past year. He stated that Miller’s Department is operating more efficiently with less staff. He stated that since the 2.5% is built into the budget, he would be in favor of the increase. Thelen stated that she can comment on the quality of Miller’s work and the quality of his employees. She stated that she provides technical assistance to over 100 counties in her work with domestic violence. She stated that she is continually impressed with his level of openness in working on the issue. She stated that Miller has saved taxpayers money by collaborating with County agencies and utilizing best practices. She stated that she is happy to be serving with the Wright County Sheriffs Department. She stated that on every committee she has been on, the Sheriffs Department’s representatives have been top notch. She stated that she can tell that his level of leadership is well regarded as it permeates throughout the Department. She stated that she is in favor of a 2.5% increase. Eichelberg stated that he would have supported Miller’s request for no wage increase if that would have been his position. However, he would also support a 2.5% increase since this is already in the budget. Mattson stated that he does not doubt Miller’s quality of work. He stated that although he could live with a 2.5% increase, he does not want County employees to get upset if the County Board has to entertain lay-offs in order to accommodate the State’s budget cuts. Norman stated that last year’s resolution called for a 2.5% increase and an additional $3,577 for work associated with contract cities. He asked the Committee if they would be in support of the same action for 2010. He stated that without the $3,577, Miller would be making less than what he was making last year. Norman also stated that January, 2010, is an election year. He stated that the County Board would be setting a resolution that sets a minimum salary for the position. Sawatzke stated that he could agree with all the good comments made today, however, he will be voting against the wage increase. He stated that the Sheriff Department is more of a team player than any other department when it comes to the budget process. Miller stated that he has made a commitment to serve four years and he will fulfill his obligation. He stated that this is the last time he will have to discuss his salary with the Personnel Committee of the Whole. RECOMMENDATION: Sheriff Gary Miller will receive in 2010 a 2.5% increase in base salary to $110,109 plus additional compensation of $3,577 for work associated with contract cities. Total compensation will be $113,686.
B. 11:00 A.M. Tom Kelly, Attorney.
Kelly stated that he would like to request a 2.5% wage increase. He commented that he is not asking for anything other than what was given to union and non-union employees. He stated that the office is functioning well. He stated that his office remains busy. He stated that it would be a minimum of twelve months before his office would see the lull that the Sheriffs Department has been experiencing. Kelly stated that last year he fixed some issues by source code. He stated that Brian Asleson is doing great on the civil cases. Cindy Hohl is doing a nice job with the overall office. Kelly stated that he has been pleased with his working relationship with the County Board regarding budget cuts. He stated that the Bad Check Restitution Program will receive over $250,000 of revenue with no cost to the taxpayers. He stated that he is proud of his work with the schools, and enjoys working with law enforcement, the schools, and the public. Russek asked Kelly if the City of Annandale has decided not to contract with the County for legal services. Kelly stated that both Buffalo and Annandale have elected not to contract with the County. He chose not to backfill the vacated legal secretary position because the City of Annandale was paying for her position. Russek stated that he would be in favor of a 2.5% increase. Russek further commented that the schools are always happy to get their safe school reports. He stated that with Kelly’s work in the schools, if he were to keep one kid from going to jail, he has earned his salary. Eichelberg stated that since the other employees are getting a 2.5% increase, he would be in favor of a 2.5% increase for Kelly. Mattson stated that he cannot support a wage increase since his District has seen the largest number of layoffs than any other District in Wright County. He stated that he is not against the work that Kelly has done. His desire is to get people to recognize that now is not the time for wage increases. Mattson stated that the Commissioners represent the taxpayers. Kelly told Mattson that he respected his position and understood that he is trying to be cognizant of the County’s checkbook. Sawatzke stated that he thinks the County Attorney’s office does a good job. He stated that he could not criticize anything with his Department. He stated that he is appreciative of his Department supporting the County Board over the year. He stated that he too would not be voting for a 2.5% increase because it is out of line with the current economic status. Kelly told Sawatzke that he respects his viewpoint. Thelen stated that she wishes to comment regarding the quality of work from the County Attorney office. She stated that she has had the opportunity to know about prosecutorial practices through her work in domestic violence. She stated that she is pleased with the caliber of work coming out of Kelly’s office and his effort to take on issues of domestic violence. She stated that his office utilizes best practices. Kelly stated that communication is important. Norman stated that just like the Sheriff, Kelly received an additional $4,809 to the 2.5% increase last year for enhanced work due to city contracts. He stated that he assumes the Committee would make the same recommendation for 2010. Kelly stated that it was his understanding that this was the agreement of the County Board as a result of the lawsuit. Norman stated that the County Attorney position does not have a salary range. He stated that the County must set a minimum salary amount by State Statute in January, 2010. He stated that he would like the County Board to establish a salary range. He distributed a draft (see attached) that allows for a 3.5% increase for each step. The salary range would give the County Board parameters in light of any new situation. Kelly clarified that he would not be bound to the schedule since he is outside the maximum salary amount. Sawatzke stated that he would be opposed to a salary range. He stated that it is his opinion that other Department Heads would want to have the same salary range. He stated that he did feel that the Step 1 salary amount of $88,497 was a proper minimum. Norman stated that he’d caution the County Board that in the event a new County Attorney replaced Kelly, they would expect to start at Kelly’s last salary amount. Norman stated that there is case law regarding this issue. Mattson asked if the salary range could be held only to the position of the County Attorney. Sawatzke commented that when Miller started his term as County Sheriff, he started at the top of the salary range. Kelly recommended that the County Board consult with Frank Madden regarding establishing a salary range. Norman asked whether the Committee would be in favor of using the Step 1 salary amount as a minimum for the resolution in January, 2010. Sawatzke stated that it was his understanding that an elected Department Head’s salary was not supposed to be set per steps within a salary range. Thelen asked whether the Statute allows for percentage increases based on performance. Sawatzke stated that the Statute calls for the County Board to discuss an elected Department Head’s performance and then determine an appropriate wage, not using a salary step. RECOMMENDATION: County Attorney Tom Kelly will receive in 2010 a 2.5% increase in base salary to $116,533 plus additional compensation of $4,809 for work associated with contract cities. Total compensation will be $121,342.
C. 11:30 A.M. Bob Hiivala, Auditor/Treasurer.
Hiivala stated that he is currently at the top of his pay scale and is looking for a 2.5% COLA. Sawatzke asked Hiivala what he has accomplished during the past twelve months. Discussion turned to Hiivala providing a staff member to the Assessor Department to assist in the effort of converting from ACS to the new Manatron system. Russek asked if all counties are switching to the Manatron system. Hiivala stated that only two of the quad counties (Stearns and Wright) are making the switch. MCCC represents both the ACS and Manatron contracts. Hiivala commented that the Auditor/Treasurer Department would have a lot of catch up work this upcoming year as it relates to the Manatron system. Sawatzke stated that he appreciates the willingness of Hiivala loaning his staff to the Assessor’s Department. Sawatzke asked if Hiivala is at the top step of his salary scale. Norman stated yes. He was making $107,423. With a 2.5% increase, that amount would be $110,109. Mattson stated that he has the largest number of layoffs in his District. He stated that he cannot criticize Hiivala’s work; however he cannot support a pay increase. Russek stated that he would support a 2.5% increase. Eichelberg and Thelen stated they would support a 2.5% increase. Sawatzke stated that he would vote against an increase. RECOMMENDATION: In 2010, Auditor/Treasurer Bob Hiivala will receive a 2.5% salary adjustment.
(End of 12-01-09 Personnel Committee Minutes & discussion)
On 11-23-09, a Joint Meeting was held with the Wright County Board and Wright County Planning Commission. At today’s County Board Meeting, the following change was made to the minutes: Page 1, 2nd paragraph, change name to “Leander Wetter” (Russek). Russek moved to approve the minutes as corrected, seconded by Thelen. Mattson then requested a change to Page 6, last paragraph, 1st sentence should read, “Mattson listed members he felt could sit on an ad hoc committee were Phyllis Latour and Tommy Thompson, John Jones, Jan Thompson, and Paul Gustafson.” The motion and second agreed with the change made by Mattson. The motion carried 5-0. Russek said it was left up to the Planning & Zoning Administrator to talk with townships and move forward on an aggregate resource area with Monticello Township and the townships in the southern part of the County. Mattson said they are looking at an ad hoc committee but that has not been settled. Sawatzke expressed appreciation to the Planning Commission for their work.
The minutes of the Joint Meeting follow:
The County Board of Commissioners met with the Planning Commission in the County Commissioners Board Room at the Wright County Government Center, Buffalo, Minnesota at 2:30 p.m. November 23, 2009.
Chairman, Pat Sawatzke, opened the meeting with introductions. County Commissioners present were Sawatzke, Jack Russek (also member of the Planning Commission), Dick Mattson, Rose Thelen, and Elmer (Ike) Eichelberg. Members of the Planning Commission included Chairman Ralph Douglas, David Pederson, Lawrence Bauman, Franklin Denn and Gordon Weber. Planning and Zoning staff represented by Administrator, Tom Salkowski and Assistant Planner, Scott Deckert. Those in the audience included Dick Anderson and Tommy Thompson, Representatives the Greater Lake Sylvia Association; Phyllis Latour, Southside Township Supervisor; Greg Eckblad, Rockford Township Supervisor; Mary Wetter, SWCD Board member and her husband, Leander Wetter; Joe Jacobs and Kerry Saxton of SWCD; Charlotte Quiggle, Sugar Lake Association and Chair of Corinna Twp. Planning Board.
Salkowski announced this is an informational meeting, and no official action would be taken. The purpose of the meeting is to give Staff some guidance as they move towards the final Land Use Plan study that will encompass the south half of the County.
I. Review of NEQ and NWQ Plans
Salkowski stated the plans for the Northeast and Northwest Quadrants of the County have been completed and adopted 2007 and 2009, respectively. Two controversial matters held over for further study were the “1 per 20” residential density and gravel mining issues. Staff provided a packet to all members prior to the meeting that included an agenda, background data and topical reviews of issues including Resource Lands, Importance of Agriculture, the “1 per 20” issue that includes a table of potential undeveloped building sites, and Gravel Mining issues and summary of the 2008/2009 Aggregate Resource Area Committee meetings.
II. Final Phase – US 12 Corridor Plan
The final phase of the County Land Use Plan is the south half of the County and includes seven townships and five cities along the State Hwy. 12 corridor. As in the past, representatives from the Townships and Cities would begin meeting to work towards an agreement on the Transition Areas. He noted there was more controversy in the NE Quadrant than the NW Quadrant. SEH was hired in the beginning and spent much time reviewing City development plans, sewer capacities and engineering. The Staff would like to use the firm again, however, in a more limited capacity. Work putting maps together and gathering data has started and Staff would start meeting with Town Boards at their meetings to update them on the progress made and determine whether there are any concerns they want addressed. Commercial Agriculture is a primary issue in this part of the County, although it is important for the entire County.
Salkowski asked for feedback on how ad hoc committees with the cities and townships worked. Sawatzke asked if Thelen was on the Committee in Clearwater. Thelen stated there was not one formed but it might have been beneficial. Salkowski explained that because an Orderly Annexation Area was in place, he met once with the OAA Board and came away with the impression that the OAA as a Transition Area was acceptable. Later some city representatives felt it was not large enough. This has been worked out, but Thelen felt those meetings are important so everyone has a good understanding. Salkowski indicated Cities and Townships could provide names of committee members that could represent them. If a Township and City cannot easily reach an agreement, they could look at what other process might work better. Russek and Douglas indicated the line between the two cities of Waverly and Montrose might have already been decided. Some cities border more than one township and representatives from each should be represented.
Sawatzke questioned if the process used previously was acceptable and no objections were raised. Salkowski indicated when they run into a conflict and an agreement cannot be reached, the County may have to make a decision, but staff will keep the Commission and Board informed.
III. Unresolved Issues
“1 per 20”
Salkowski explained this issue (whether and how to implement a “1 house per 20 acres” zone) was raised during the NE Quadrant hearings. Any decision was delayed for review because it could impact the entire County. He referred the members to the information provided in their packet, and reviewed the table showing the potential for development. The number of building sites do not reflect what is on the market but is used to show potential building sites available under current zoning and before the NEQ and NWQ Plans were completed. In some cases, the numbers are low estimates. For instance, the number of sites would be much higher now in Rockford Township due to the large area of Rural Residential district added to the Plan in Rockford. He asked for direction from the County Board and Planning Commission on how this matter should be handled and noted possible options in the information packet including whether a study group should be formed.
Eichelberg – indicated Buffalo Township residents have interest in this and suggested a task force be formed. Representatives could include a Township resident, Town Board official; and someone that has knowledge of the legal aspects, including the Green Acres Tax law and any other interested members of the Planning Commission, County Board or landowners so they can have a good discussion on the pros and cons.
Mattson indicated there has been no interest expressed from his District and did not think there would be under the current economy.
Sawatzke indicated forming a task force is one option. However, if there is no interest in moving away from the philosophy of a “1 per 40” to a “1 per 20” density he wondered if resources should be spent on a Task Force. He believes that “1 per 20” contradicts the heart of the plan, as much of what we are trying to do is protect Ag land and open spaces in the County. Looking at the number of available sites he questioned a need. He asked what they would be protecting if the “1 per 20” is added. Some counties are as restrictive as “1 per 160”. The A/R district is now available. Why is another hobby farm district needed? There was little interest in it during the NW Quadrant study. Sawatzke is reluctant to go down that path.
Russek noted those who have smaller tracts may have an interest in busting up their land. Those interested in farming are concerned because once the farms are split up; the non-farm residents can have an impact on farming activities
Denn relayed his situation in Monticello Township and did not feel it would be a good idea to change it at this time. Two years ago the City of Monticello annexed much land that has remained undeveloped and there is talk about it going back into the Township. He did not think it wise to encourage more growth until there is a market for it. He felt over supplying the market will devalue the lots.
Weber expressed a desire to move forward and study the issue. They are planning for 10-20 years out and he felt that “1 per 20” should be considered in that context. He felt the “1 per 40” must have caused as much strife when it was originally considered. He believes that there is much bias around the table to keep things the way they are, or how the Planning Administration would like it. There was much interest during the NE Quadrant and promises made to study this within one year. He is a “property rights person”, which he believes is the essence of the United States. Planning & Zoning is about taking rights away from people under the guise it is what’s best for everyone. He felt it would be best left up to a committee to see how it could be handled and address the concerns Russek has expressed. He felt it has to be removed from this group and their bias and give it to a fresh group of people. See what kind of plan they come up with and it might only be applied to the east part of the County and put it up for vote later.
Sawatzke responded to Weber’s comment that zoning takes away the rights of people and asked if they should let people do anything they want. Weber indicated he could have that discussion with Sawatzke somewhere else. Sawatzke felt there are a large number of people that are concerned with what goes on next door to them, as it may impact them. Weber indicated he is aware of that, but he would rather err on the property rights of the applicant. He felt it would be best to get away from their biases and leave it up to a task force as was done with the aggregate resource. Sawatzke stated he has been elected several times, tried to knock on every door in his district, and his position is based on what his constituents have expressed to him as important. Sawatzke noted Salkowski works for the County Board and is here today for direction.
Russek noted in a planning and zoning program lines have to be drawn somewhere and people are affected. He felt farmland has to be protected. The impact is huge on the people who are trying to farm. Weber noted even if it is established it would not mean they would all be used.
Eichelberg – asked if the Board is afraid of what a Task Force might find and suggested they go forward with a Task Force. Sawatzke – the question becomes is it a worthwhile exercise if the elected County Board does not believe it is a good idea, why waste time. Eichelberg – noted there are a couple areas that are interested. Sawatzke agreed there might be a township that wants it and others that do not.
Thelen indicated she did not come here with her mind made up, but is concerned about property rights being claimed as the only important issue. There is the public good and the interest of all citizens to be considered also. There are Townships that are not interested in promoting more development in rural areas, such as her home township of Clearwater. If they develop a task force it should be a cross of people with different interests and a larger interest than just personal property rights. There is also an interest in preserving the environment and land for future generations. She is interested in the impacts and is there anything other than self-interest that would justify or guide the “1 per 20”. Weber – it is all about property rights. Thelen – that has to be balanced with the public good. Weber – agreed it is important, but the makeup of any task force is critical so they have a good cross of people representing all sides of the issue.
Douglas – indicated he does not have a bias on the issue. He noted the A/R district allows 10+ acre lots and what would become of that. Would they want to break ten acres down, also? Weber indicated he did not know and that is what a task force would review.
Bauman – stated Franklin Township has a large area designated for A/R that is still undeveloped. The City has provided a large area for annexation and he felt that is where development belongs rather than scattered around in the rural areas where the farmers are trying to operate. He would not want to see a density higher than “l per 40” and would rather see an “l per 80”. Divisions should be taken out of the corner.
Pederson – was surprised at the number of building entitlements left in the County. The demand for building lots has dropped off dramatically and to create potential for more would only lower the value. Agricultural land is important to Wright County and is what the Plan is all about. He felt if density were to be increased, there would be significant impacts to services such as the Sheriff’s Department and the taxes received from the homes do not adequately support the services.
Denn questioned the timing. There is no market for these lots. Currently most farmers are not selling the entitlements they have, and are only interested if they are not farming anymore and are trying to sell the farm. The best interests of the County and not just the individual is what has to be considered. There are many issues besides land use, such as whether it is a good idea to put in more on-site sewer systems. He was not sure establishing a committee would do more than what the Planning Commission and County Board can do to resolve this. He felt it was a dead issue and did not expect the economy to come back until 2012. Denn felt these two bodies can address it.
Sawatzke questioned whether they should create a committee to study this if the people by and large do not think it is a good idea. Weber felt there is a demand. Sawatzke asked if some of the audience would like to add comments.
Kerry Saxton – Director of SWCD– they deal with natural resources and protection of the resource. Agreed individuals have their biases but there are people who want to break it down and do not consider any societal interest. There are people who firmly believe everything should be broken down into five acre lots. There are also groups that are trying to preserve wildlife corridors. The more they break up land the more open space and wildlife is lost. Personally, he felt “1 per 20” is ludicrous. There are plenty of available housing sites; it would be a waste of resources, and costly. He noted if he were trying to win the argument he would try to stack that task force. He felt this body is where the decision should be made, because they are elected to represent the citizens. Sawatzke asked if the elected SWCD Board voted on that position. Saxton – stated some time back they did vote and their position was against the “1 per 20”.
Eckblad – the “1 per 20” came up half way through the NE Quadrant study and the group interested grew. This is an idea that some like and they were told a decision would be delayed. Sawatzke agreed that is how they got to this point. Thelen asked where the issue stands now in the Rockford Township. Eckblad stated it is quiet now, however, at the time of the study all the cities wanted to grow, and there was a lot of contention.
Mary Wetter disagreed planning and zoning protects farmers. She noted her location and stated the feedlot rules put them out of business. She did not think establishing “1 per 20” would mean they would be used. The lots could be clustered. Sawatzke questioned how the feedlot ordinance affected them. What were they too close to? M. Wetter – stated the houses. Sawatzke stated that is the point. Leander Wetter – expressed frustration with his personal situation that prevented him from expanding his livestock numbers and asked where the rules protect them. He has concern for protecting property rights and claimed they could not be “grandfathered” in.
Mattson - has heard from many residents in his district that don’t want him to support “1 per 20”. He heard that the prior support was generated by a realtor that went door to door trying to convince people to support it. He is familiar with large dairy operations that were put out of business because of the residual development. Otsego is an example of what has happened in Wright County. That township became incorporated and a council was made up of people not representing the farming community.
Weber – stated he was on the NE Quadrant committee and was asked not let this issue die. He does not have a personal interest in it, there may not be any interest in Mattson’s district but there might be in the NE Quadrant. He felt that he should live up to his promise to people to argue strongly for a “1 per 20” option. Development will be an issue in the future.
Latour – representing Southside stated they have had no requests to allow for more development during the NWQ study. She agreed the east end of the County might be more affected. She suggested those areas could plan for that in the long-range plan. It is beneficial for property owners buying into an area to know what will happen.
Salkowski stated he tries to make his positions clear, however, takes direction from the Planning Commission and County Board. He was not sure if they are leaning toward a vote, but is hearing four commissioners saying they are not interested in the “1 per 20”. He is not hearing that anyone wants it applied county-wide. Since there is already a “1 per 10, hobby farm” district, one option could be that Townships that feel commercial agriculture is not worth saving in some areas could consider changing their Plan to allow more of the “1 per 10” density in the future.
Russek noted there are four PC members and himself here not in favor of changing the “1 per 40” and four County Commissioners have not indicated support to pursue “1 per 20”. His recommendation is to stay with “1 per 40” and there is no demand for more residential development in rural areas. If Rockford or Buffalo Township wants to change and eliminate AG or pursue even larger areas of “1 per 10”, they can pursue that later. The consensus, not unanimous, is that resources should not be spend on pursuing the “1 per 20” issue any further.
Gravel Mining
Salkowski explained an Aggregate Recourse Area was established in the NW Quadrant Plan. This informs operators and neighbors where commercial mining can take place and operators know they do not have to come in for annual permits. Monticello Township did not buy into the concept. It will be his job to go back to Monticello and Buffalo Townships and work with them to better explain the current plan, and help landowners identify Aggregate Resource Areas. It was noted the primary gravel resources in the County are found around Monticello and Southside, with some in Buffalo. Very little found in the south half of the County. Before Ordinances can be drafted, they want to make sure any concerns brought to light during the study in the US 12 Corridor Plan are addressed. The members on the Task Force represented different interests. The planning is important so the County is prepared as demand returns. Monticello Township will be a prime target due to its location on the freeway and State Hwy. 25. General regulations for the rest of the County have to be resolved and how and if they allow temporary pits. The concern expressed in allowing temporary pits is they often become long-term with repeated permit extensions. Looking for some guidance on whether they should bring the committee back or a new one. Suggests no decisions should be made until they have discussions with the Township on the south end of the County, who are consumers of the gravel, and do operate some small pits.
Mattson listed members he felt could sit on an ad hoc committee were Phyllis Latour and Tommy Thompson, John Jones, Jan Thompson, Paul Gustafson. He would defer to Sawatzke for a representative from Monticello Township. Everyone understands they need gravel but they need to protect the valuable properties that are around the lakes. These properties generate much tax revenue and these concerned citizens should have input. He could provide pictures to show abandoned mined areas near the lake areas in his District. There has not been enough money set aside to reclaim these when someone walks away and they become junk yards. He did not feel the previous committee was a good balance and the names he suggested are a stable group of people that would help in making a decision. Sawatzke asked Mattson if anyone is a representative of the industry. Mattson felt there was such a strong bias on the last committee; he did not feel the lake representatives were heard. Salkowski stated the former committee had two representatives of the industry and an owner of a pit. Sawatzke noted there were three people involved in gravel mining and four that were not. He suggested adding two of the representatives Mattson suggested to make a nine member committee; he felt it would be good to have someone on the committee representing the industry. Weber felt in recent years progress has been made on reclamation. Russek agreed, noting a bond has been required.
Salkowski agreed with Mattson that there have been a lot of sloppy operators in the past, but the threat of acting on a bond gets the attention of any operator. He felt a mix on the committee is important to bring forward ideas and generate good discussion which helps to develop ordinances. Five or six of the people suggested are representatives of lake associations, but a balance of interests is helpful. He explained the location of Wright County to the Metro makes the resource valuable. He felt they need to take steps to protect the lakes and allow for mining in a manner all can accept. He felt the existing committee worked well, although there may have been a break down at the end, both sides did a good job in making their concerns known. He welcomes the help a committee can provide staff. Ultimately, the five county commissioners will have to adopt or reject the recommendations.
Denn felt in the case of Monticello Township, the best place to start is with the property owners. The problem is complex and the owners have many concerns. Sawatzke noted some owners do not want the Aggregate Resource District, but they may want to be in it once the find out they cannot have a commercial gravel operation without it. Salkowski accepted some blame for not informing all owners earlier in the process and noted much work was first done through the committee. Staff feel a task force can be very helpful as they develop ordinances. He will start meeting with the townships for the US 12 study and see if they have any suggestions for membership or otherwise. He would come back to the County Board for Task Force Committee members before they start meeting to complete the mining details. He gave Southside Township and the Lake Associations a lot of credit in accepting an Aggregate Resource Area, and they have a valid concern about temporary pits. Latour stated when the Southside Town Board approved the Aggregate District they understood there would be no mining outside of that area. The feeling is if mining goes outside the designated map, producers could keep coming back to open up pits. The Plan does not define this well enough yet.
Sawatzke he is hoping Monticello Township will accept a map outlining an Aggregate Area and there is acreage in Buffalo Township to be considered also. The question is the makeup of a task force. Thelen questioned if the task force would meet prior to the US 12 Corridor study. Salkowski stated they could start meeting after the holidays and felt feedback on mining can be obtained early in the US 12 process.
There was discussion on whether the task force should vote. Salkowski noted that some committees (like the Aggregate Committee) are deliberately composed of people representing specific interests and the question becomes, since they represent special interests rather than a cross-section of the County, is voting fair? Sawatzke stated a vote might be helpful to determine what the majority of the Committee wants. Weber felt a vote is and can be important, the diversity of the group is important and a voting committee removes some of the power from the Administrator. Landowners that own gravel should also be part of the committee.
Russek asked if Eckblad would serve on the committee to represent Rockford Town Board, especially as they discuss the temporary permits. Eckblad indicated he would be willing. Complaints they get are trucks creating a serious traffic concern. He felt entrances and volume of truck traffic pulling out onto County roads should be addressed. Russek and Sawatzke noted those issues and requirements should be dealt with by the road authority.
Sawatzke suggested adding Thompson, Gustafson and Eckblad to the existing committee. Tommy Thompson indicated he was a member of the Task Force and is not willing to dedicate more time if it is the same makeup as he did not see how it would be productive. Monticello representatives stated several times they have no interest in the Aggregate Resource District. He would endorse Mattson’s suggestion for a committee of 5-6 citizens who could look at the whole issue. The valuable gravel is found in Mattson and Thelen’s districts. Although the material in Monticello has value it is mostly shale and the pressure will be in the west end of the County. He would encourage developing a smaller committee of people who could come up with the regulations. Salkowski indicated Thompson might have a point. The details of an Ordinance are what they will be addressing next. He needs to see what the issues are in the south half of the County and work with Monticello Township. Although the lake associations have a very important perspective, a good cross-section is also important. Weber suggested starting fresh with new people might be best.
Sawatzke – owners in Monticello are reluctant to accept the District without knowing the rules. Denn noted there is a large area in his Township and some owners that have material will wonder why they were not included. It became controversial and a solution will not come easy.
Douglas asked if two committees could meet separately and then come together at the end.
Salkowski mapping is a specific task and part of the problem is that all the details are not hammered out. County Coordinator Norman has suggested that no formal action be taken today, as this is more like a Committee meeting. Rather than appoint a committee today, he was looking for concept and direction. He could ask the County Board to address appointing a committee at a later date.
Sawatzke indicated the members of the committee would not be decided today, but felt Salkowski should start meeting with Monticello Township, as there is now an Aggregate Resource Area in Southside, but none in Monticello.
IV. Process for Plan Completion
Salkowski the process will be similar as they used for the NW Quadrant study. The County Board will be kept updated, and the Planning Commission will be the primary source for ongoing review. Staff would start meeting with individual townships in the US 12 Corridor, schedule two or three open houses, have meetings on the Transition Areas and a committee for the Resource Land would be developed. Meetings with the Townships could be used to recruit members for that committee, to be appointed by the County Board.
(End of 11-23-09 County Board & Wright County Planning Commission Joint Meeting Minutes & discussion)
The Board received information from the Planning & Zoning Administrator on Planning Commission (PC) and Board of Adjustment (BOA) appointments. Members of these Boards serve three-year terms. Expired terms are usually filled by the County Board at their first meeting in January. Although there is nothing in the law that requires that the appointments be filled by commissioner district, it has been tradition, and commissioner courtesy, that the five BOA members are appointed by district, and that the PC is also five by district, with one at-large member and one County Commissioner. The County Commissioner on the PC is appointed annually. State law does require that one member of the BOA must also be a member of the PC. The follow members terms expire at the end of 2009 and will need to be reappointed or replaced by January, 2010.
Board of Adjustment
Nancy Kopff (2nd District)
Bob Schermann (3rd District)
Planning Commission
Franklin Denn (2nd District)
Lawrence Bauman (3rd District)
Russek moved to appoint those listed, seconded by Mattson, carried 5-0. Russek’s appointment to the Planning Commission will be addressed at the first County Board Meeting in January, 2010.
The Board discussed setting a Building Committee Of The Whole meeting in January, 2010, to discuss Facilities Strategic Planning & Space Needs. Sawatzke favored waiting to hold the meeting until after the end of the Legislative Session. Russek moved to schedule the Building Committee Of The Whole Meeting for 1-26-10 at 10:30 A.M. The motion was seconded by Thelen and carried 4-1 with Sawatzke casting the nay vote.
Thelen moved to cancel the Technology Committee Of The Whole Meeting scheduled for 12-15-09 at 10:30 A.M. and reschedule it to 12-22-09 at 10:30 A.M. The motion was seconded by Russek and carried 5-0.
The Board discussed the 2010 draft Budget and Certified Levy. Sawatzke noted that correspondence was received from Patricia Holthaus with some comments and suggestions relating to the budget. He received an email from another party. Norman said the draft resolution reviewed at the 12-01-09 County Board Meeting reflected a local levy of $48,917,651. At that meeting, Sawatzke suggested a change to a budget figure relating to a program in Human Services. The Human Services Director has since determined that figure to be $5,258. Norman said that the Minnesota Supreme Court ruled a week ago against counties being able to charge a Pay For Stay fee in jail facilities for pre-sentenced inmates. Wright County was looking at this as a viable revenue source for Jail operations. This ruling will result in a loss of revenue for Wright County in the amount of $114,000. There will also be a $39,322 loss in revenue as the County Attorney’s Office will not renew the contract with the City of Annandale. Norman stated the draft resolution in the Board packets today takes into account those changes and use of the $300,000 in 800 MHz bond surplus. These changes would lower the local levy to $48,765,715.
Mattson suggested removing from the 2010 Sheriff budget the purchase of any new vehicles. This equates to $490,000 for one year. If computers for employees are not replaced for one year, he estimated the savings would increase to nearly $600,000. If those items were taken out of the budget, it could avoid affecting employees and their wages. Norman said he reviewed these types of items and realized that Sheriff vehicles, Highway equipment, and computer hardware is scheduled to be purchased out of the Equipment Note which runs through 2011. Sawatzke said for every dollar not spent on equipment, that amount can reduce the levy and be used to pay principal and interest on the bonds. Norman said while that can be done, the County would be paying principal and interest on the bonds and yet not receive any equipment. The purchase of the equipment is then deferred to some point in the future.
Russek stated that the equipment budgets have already been cut, including reducing the Highway Department budget from two trucks to one truck. He cited the loss of State revenue and the Jail payment that will be required. He did not feel that the County should move to a bare bones budget. He viewed layoffs as a last step, and feels Wright County has been conservative in hiring. Mattson said the vehicles in County departments are not any older than two years. He supported not purchasing vehicles for one year for any department. Older vehicles could be utilized for shorter routes if needed. Mattson stated that replacing a vehicle earlier in the cycle was supposed to bring more dollars for it when it was auctioned, but this has not been shown to be true. Mattson said mileage will be saved as the County is not boarding prisoners elsewhere. Norman said if the County Board is contemplating cutting the Sheriff Budget by $490,000, that the Sheriff should be present for the discussion. He is an elected Department Head and has the ability to appeal his budget. Sawatzke said that maybe the Department could scale back by several vehicles. Eichelberg felt this could be discussed for the 2011 budget. Norman said years ago, the Sheriff Department provided a list of vehicles that were going to be replaced, mileage, and whether they were marked/unmarked vehicles. This could be considered in future years. Sawatzke said this has been a difficult year, with the challenges of opening and paying for the Jail/LEC. In addition, State funding is being cut. Farmers and other property owners have seen their property values decrease and they do not want to pay more taxes. Russek said budgets were cut in all departments. Board action to cut line items at this time would reopen the negotiation process. He thought if the Board was not satisfied with the budget, they should have indicated this to departments during the budget process. Russek estimated that the Sheriff may turn back $1 million this year from his budget and should be given credit for this effort. Russek felt the next budget process would be much tougher. Sawatzke agreed with Russek’s comments but said setting the budget and levy is a process which involves public input. This year, the meeting where the budget and levy were discussed was very well attended. He felt that involving the public was important in this process.
Discussion followed on various budgeted items and the potential of decreasing those amounts.
Sale of McNamara Property. It was reported by the Highway Engineer that an offer of $22,500 has been made for the property. It was the consensus that $22,500 will be added to the projected revenues for Road & Bridge; thus, the levy will be reduced by the same amount.
Professional Services. Sawatzke suggested reducing this line item based on use versus budget over the past several years. Norman said the Assessor expects quite a few tax court property cases, which are not budgeted. The line item will be used to hire consultants who have expertise in those cases. Norman said that the Professional Services line item will also fund the classifications study, estimated at $100,000. Thelen felt it was important not to make this number too lean. The County must meet the requirements of the State. She did not feel enough could be cut to prevent doubling of taxes for those with ag properties. This happened because of Green Acres and reclassification. She suggested that a ruckus be created at the State level like was done with Green Acres. Sawatzke said there will always be this tax shift; at times, the residential is impacted more than ag. After considerable discussion, the consensus was to reduce Professional Services, Budget 100, by $80,000.
Site Improvements. Sawatzke provided the budget figures and total expenditures for the past several years reflecting that not all that was budgeted was spent. Norman said no action was taken on items within the Capital Improvement Plan. Those issues will be discussed when the Building Committee Of The Whole Meeting is held at the end of January. Russek said that turn back dollars have historically been used for capital improvements. He felt that this year, those turn back dollars should be held because of the unallotments expected in July, 2010. Sawatzke said there is also about $700,000 that can be used toward what is unallotted which was saved by not replacing positions that have been vacated. Russek noted that the County does not have a large reserve to draw from. Hiivala said the State Auditor’s Office recommends a fund balance in reserves. Based on the 2008 audit completed by Larson Allen, Wright County is on the low side of the recommended reserve amount. After discussion, it was the consensus to lower the Site Improvements budget by $50,000.
Debt Service. Norman said in 2011 and in 2012, the debt service line item for local taxes will climb significantly. Up to this point, the County has used one-time sources of funds to lower the debt service in the local levy. He said he would not advise going lower than the certified base levy as the levy limit in 2011 would be a narrow figure, probably less than 1%. Sawatzke said the principal and interest for the bonds will go up significantly next year, as it did this year. This is entirely driven by the Jail/LEC.
Staff Training, Sheriff Budget. Based on the information provided by the Sheriff Department earlier in the meeting today, the consensus was to reduce the Sheriff Department Training line item by $8,000.
Norman summarized the figures which will be reduced from the 2010 budget based on today’s discussion: $8,000 from the Sheriff Training line item, $80,000 in Professional Services-Budget 100, $50,000 in Site Improvements, and $22,500 because of revenue received through the sale of the McNamara property. Norman said that the revised Certified Taxable Levy amount is $48,605,215 (reduced from the total draft Certified Taxable Levy amount of $48,765,715). Eichelberg moved to adopt Resolution #09-52, seconded by Russek, carried 5-0 on a roll call vote:
BE IT RESOLVED that the Wright County Board of Commissioners hereby establishes the 2010 Budget as follows:
ROAD & BRIDGE 19,775,265
DEBT SERVICE 8,049,032
TOTAL BUDGET $100,031,326
BE IT FURTHER RESOLVED that the Wright County Board of Commissioners hereby establishes the 2010 Certified Taxable Levy as follows:
ROAD AND BRIDGE $ 8,069,751
HUMAN SERVICES $ 8,913,142
SUB-TOTAL $40,256,892
NET TAXABLE LEVY $35,698,105
CORRECTIONS $ 7,521,734
DEBT SERVICE $8,049,032
Less Sales Tax Rebate $ -969,291
800 MHz Reimbursement $ -718,000
Transfer-In $ -926,385
Use of Excess Debt Funds $ -500,000
$ 406,600
(End of Resolution #09-52)
The meeting recessed at 11:48 A.M. and reconvened at 11:57 A.M.
On a motion by Thelen, second by Russek, roll call vote carried 5-0 to adopt Resolution #09-53 appointing Dr. Quinn Strobl as Medical Examiner from 1-01-10 to 12-31-10.
Russek moved to adopt Resolution #09-54 setting the salary for Tom Kelly, Attorney, for 2010. The motion was seconded by Eichelberg and carried 3-2 on a roll call vote, with Sawatzke and Mattson casting the nay votes:
WHEREAS, the Wright County Board of Commissioners has considered the experience, qualifications, performance, and responsibilities and duties of Tom Kelly, Attorney
BE IT RESOLVED that his 2010 salary shall be $116,533;
BE IT FURTHER RESOLVED that the Wright County Board of Commissioners shall provide $4,809 in additional salary in 2010 in recognition of the enhanced responsibilities he has for administering the city law enforcement contracts.
(End of Resolution #09-54)
Eichelberg moved to adopt Resolution #09-55 setting the salary for Gary Miller, Sheriff, for 2010. The motion was seconded by Russek and carried 3-2 on a roll call vote, with Sawatzke and Mattson casting the nay votes:
WHEREAS, the Wright County Board of Commissioners has considered the experience, qualifications, performance, and responsibilities and duties of Gary Miller, Sheriff;
BE IT RESOLVED that his 2010 salary shall be $110,109;
BE IT FURTHER RESOLVED that the Wright County Board of Commissioners shall provide $3,577 in additional salary in 2010 in recognition of the enhanced responsibilities he has for administering the city law enforcement contracts.
(End of Resolution #09-55)
Thelen moved to adopt Resolution #09-56 setting the salary for Bob Hiivala, Auditor/Treasurer, for 2010. The motion was seconded by Eichelberg and carried 3-2 with Sawatzke and Mattson casting the nay votes:
WHEREAS, the Wright County Board of Commissioners has considered the experience, qualifications, performance, and responsibilities and duties of Bob Hiivala, Auditor/Treasurer;
BE IT RESOLVED that his 2010 salary shall be $110,109.
(End of Resolution #09-56)
A draft resolution was reviewed to set the County Commissioners’ compensation for 2010. Norman stated the draft amount of $37,440 includes a 2.5% increase. Russek and Sawatzke said they did not favor the 2.5% increase. Russek moved to adopt Resolution #09-57 setting the County Commissioners’ salary for 2010 at the same rate as it was in 2009. The motion was seconded by Thelen and carried 5-0 on a roll call vote:
WHEREAS, Minnesota Statutes, Section 375.055, provides the procedures for fixing the County Board compensation for the next year;
NOW THEREFORE, BE IT RESOLVED, that as of January 1, 2010 members of the Wright County Board of Commissioners shall have an annual salary, exclusive of per diem payments, of $36,527. Said salary shall continue in effect until such time as this Resolution is amended or otherwise modified.
(End of Resolution #09-57)
Mattson made a motion to adopt Resolution #09-58 setting the County Commissioners’ per diem rate at $40.00 for 2010. This would be a reduction from the $50 per diem paid in 2009. The motion was seconded by Russek for discussion. Sawatzke felt the per diem should remain the same as in 2009. Russek thought the same and said he would vote against the second he made to the motion. Sawatzke said that $50 is the lowest of any per diem in the survey that was conducted. Russek moved to amend the motion to set the per diem rate at $50 in 2010, which is the same as the rate paid in 2009. The amendment to the motion was seconded by Thelen and carried 4-1 with Mattson casting the nay vote. The motion to adopt Resolution #09-58 as amended carried 4-1 with Mattson casting the nay vote.
Mattson moved to appoint Mike Messina to the GRRL Board Of Trustees, seconded by Russek, carried 5-0.
Norman provided an update on the Voluntary Comprehensive Dental Plan. Due to system limitations at Delta Dental, single dental coverage is only available to those employees with single health insurance coverage, and family dental coverage is only available to those employees with family health insurance coverage. Norman said as this is the first year of implementation for this coverage, this may be able to be amended in the future.
Bills Approved
Brian Abrahamson. $147.95
Allina Hospitals & Clinic 28,660.54
Allina Hospitals & Clinic SP 172.50
Allina Medical 342.24
American Messaging 720.87
American Tower & ATC Tower. 3,480.00
Ameripride Linen and Apparel 315.23
AMI Imaging Systems Inc. 1,125.00
Anoka County Corrections 9,240.00
APEC Industrial Sales & Serv 449.89
Aramark Correctional Serv 19,605.01
Brian Asleson 108.79
Kirk Asplin Travel Plaza 223.72
Bachman Printing 432.39
Joe Backes 224.40
Bob Barker Co. 1,527.20
Boyer Truck Parts 168.02
BP Amoco 1,657.68
Darnell Brethorst 179.30
City Buffalo 55,524.79
Tim Cameron 150.00
Carver Co. Financial Serv. 580.00
Catco Parts Service 108.44
CDW Government Inc. 2,002.28
Cenex Fleetcard 845.67
Center Point Energy 262.90
Centra Sota Lake Region LLC 23,077.12
Central Fire Protection 247.28
Central McGowan Inc. 199.08
Central MN Mental Health Ctr. 100.00
CenturyLink 106.29
Chamberlain Oil Co. 1,639.84
CIT Information Services Inc. 2,000.00
Climate Air 6,335.01
Computer Professionals Unl. 908.00
Constellation Justice Systems 19,324.00
Cottens Inc. 1,804.48
City Delano 2,021.74
Dell Marketing LP 761.49
Dental Care Assoc. of Buffalo 302.00
Karen Determan 230.00
Dingmann Marine & More LLC 585.83
Dustcoating Inc. 7,182.00
E Central Regional Juvenile 11,348.50
Edens Group 160.00
Elk River Municipal Utilities 116.59
Energy Sales Inc. 344.14
Dale Engel 400.00
Ernst General Construction Inc. 1,019.00
Evident Crime Scene Products 101.00
Experian 1,557.60
First State Tire Recycling 313.21
Fleet Computing International 775.00
Force America Inc. 588.09
Forestry Suppliers Inc. 990.01
Fred Pryor Seminars Inc. 195.00
General Office Products Co. 379.60
Globalstar USA 229.56
Raymond Glunz 120.00
Gopher State One Call 328.40
Gould Towing 133.59
Government Training Services 955.00
Grainger 1,281.63
Granite Electronics 2,766.10
Granite Pest Control Services 116.49
Greenview Inc. 1,721.90
Hardings Towing Inc. 454.22
Hennepin Co. Medical Center 742.44
Hewlett Packard 6,170.96
Hillyard Inc. - Minneapolis 324.43
Holiday 12,884.26
Jolanta Howard 100.00
Neal Huemoeller 361.35
Impact Proven Solutions 3,953.28
Integrated Fire & Security 788.00
Interstate All Battery Center 286.36
Interstate Battery Systems 311.76
Chris Jahnke 319.00
Jerrys Towing & Repair 133.59
Kaplan Professional Schools 3,400.00
L-3 Communiations Mobile Vis 277.16
Lab Safety Supply Inc. 165.05
Lake Region Coop Oil 107.42
Lakedale Communications 390.35
LaPlant Demo Inc. 987.75
Loberg Electric 506.30
Carol Lostetter 200.00
Lund Industries Inc. 231.50
M & M Express Sales 802.48
M-R Sign Company Inc. 602.47
Magneto Power LLC 165.31
Maple Lake Lumber Company 258.19
City Maple Lake 1,359.22
Marco 20,677.49
Marco Inc. 7,185.53
Martin-McAllisters Consulting 1,200.00
Menards - Buffalo 569.18
Midland Corporate Benefits Svc. 997.75
Minnesota Department of Human 370.96
MN Association of County Offic 265.00
MN Counties Computer Coop 1,461.59
MN County Attorneys Assoc. 5,105.00
MN Sheriffs Association 125.00
MN Society of Prof. Surveyors 260.00
MN Society of Profsnl Surveyor 872.00
MN Supreme Court 1,268.00
MN Transportation Alliance 170.00
City Monticello 15,675.97
City Montrose 818.93
Morrell Towing Inc. 114.27
Morries Parts & Service Group 1,105.69
Motorola Inc. 109,072.90
National Recreation & Park Ass 140.00
New River Medical Center 1,600.00
North Suburban Towing Inc. 267.19
Northern Plains States Distrib 963.96
Northern States Power Company 125.60
Office Depot 6,723.26
Office of the Secretary of State 440.00
Omann Brothers Inc. 498.58
ORyans Conoco 135.00
Positron Public Safety Sys 58,240.00
Postmaster - Buffalo 800.00
Powerplan OIB 193.55
Qwest 478.78
Frank Ramacciotti 1,100.00
Reds Cafe 641.25
Thomas Richards 200.00
Rigid Hitch Incorporated 106.20
Royal Tire Inc. 1,511.56
Ryan Chevrolet 647.40
Spectrum Solutions 10,663.61
Stamp Fulfillment Services 506.60
State of MN-Office Enterprise 1,421.82
T & T Tools 107.00
Total Printing 1,328.62
Tradewinds Electric LLC 1,884.28
Traffic Marking Service Inc. 3,052.59
Trans Languages LLC 516.00
TW Vending Inc. 241.55
Twin City Labor Mngmt Council 910.00
Ultramax 1,695.00
Uniforms Unlimited 854.45
University of Minnesota 650.00
Unlimited Electric Inc. 4,742.44
US Postal Service 255.60
Verizon Wireless 236.81
Victory Corps 264.13
Walmart Store 01-1577 649.50
Waste Management - TC West 1,683.27
Watchguard Electronic Home 275.50
City Waverly 2,354.43
West Abe Consortium 1,500.00
West Payment Center 880.82
Westside Wholesale Tire 193.32
Wisecup Law Office LLC 300.00
Wright Hennepin 545.00
Wright Hennepin Electric 2,079.63
Zack’s Inc. 185.87
Zee Service Company 140.50
Ziegler Inc. 6,535.41
47 Payments less than $100 2.592.03
Final total $548,675.60
The meeting adjourned at 12:07 P.M.
Published in the Herald Journal Jan. 11, 2010.

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